Omar challenges Modi on Article 370

SRINAGAR: Expressing surprise over the assertions made by some leaders about Article 370 of the Constitution of India without having its full understanding, the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah referring to Narendra Modi’s recent statement on the Article 370 in a public rally at Jammu, challenged him to fix the time, date and venue to discuss the efficacy and essentiality of Article 370.

“We are ready to talk to anyone on the subject even if you select Ahmadabad in Gujarat as a venue for the same,” he asserted and said that many people in India who have held and are holding high offices are equally ignorant about the nature, importance and essentiality of Article 370.

“Main hairaan hota hun jab yeh log jinhun ne 370 pada bi nahi hai iske bara me bolte hain”. He said he is astonished when he hears some people talking about Article 370 who have not even properly and completely read this Article. “They connect domicile rights of the people of the State, land grant issues and other similar matters to the Article 370 which has nothing to do with these matters”, he said maintaining that these leaders should know that Article 370 governs the relations of the State with the Union of India.

Addressing a large public gathering at the burial site of NC founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah at Naseembagh on his birth anniversary, Omar Abdullah took a dig at Narendra Modi for mentioning Gujjar and Shia communities in his speech at Jammu.

Omar Abdullah asked Narendra Modi not to talk of Gujjar of Jammu and Kashmir whose development and prosperity is a focused concern of the State and they enjoy Schedule Tribe status here. “You should instead be concerned about the Gujjars of Rajasthan who are struggling for tribal status and are far behind in the development process,” he told Modi advising him to first know whether Muharram is the month of mourning or the occasion of celebrations (Jeshans) and then talk of Shias of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said and referred to the calendar of celebrations issued in Gujarat during the Muharram as also congratulating the Muslims. Omar Abdullah also expressed surprise over Modi for forgetting Kashmiri Pandits. The Chief Minister said Kashmiri Pandits are the integral part of Kashmir and without them Kashmiriyat is incomplete.

The Chief Minister criticized those leaders in the state who change their politics on seeing the direction and the way towards which the wind blows. He said these leaders have no courage to face the reality and take decisions for safeguarding the interests of the people and the State like that of Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who took even hardest decisions for the people’s cause and got these approved by the masses. 

Stating that Late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah regarded the interests of the State and its people above all considerations, the Chief Minister said that Indira-Sheikh Accord was a step in this direction when the great leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the true friend of the people and the guardian of their interests, observed that a sea change has taken place on global spectrum, the map of the sub-continent has been redrafted and three wars fought between India and Pakistan on Kashmir resulted only blood-shed and destruction, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah saw only options to seek protection, honour and political dignity of the people of the State by talking to India.

“This resulted in the Indira-Sheikh Accord”, he said and added that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah soon after this Accord went to people for getting their consent for his decision which he received in 1977 State Assembly Elections by a thumping majority and whole hearted support of the people.

“This was not an easy decision to take for Sheikh Sahib but he took it for the interest of the State with the view that he will put it before the people to approve it or not and he went in the Elections in 1977 and received complete assent of the people”, the Chief Minister said and mentioned the similar historic decision taken by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1947 and putting it before the people for their agreement.  

“Sheikh Sahib considered the people basis of power and recognized them as the real decision makers. He believed in democracy and public referendum as such he put his all decisions before the people for approval”, Omar said and elaborated that the life and struggle of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah explains well his sincerity towards the state and its people.

“Sheikh Sahib never indulged in putting the people of the State to trouble. He never took any step that would have endangered the life, education, economy and public safety. He put himself and his companions to the trouble and faced atrocity instead of putting people to difficulties and marring the future of youth”, Omar maintained and highlighted the high principles of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and his stupendous agenda for the State in his visionary document of Naya Kashmir.

The Chief Minister said that Sheikh Sahib was not like today leaders who create problems and difficulties for people in all fields of life even marring the educational carrier of students. He said that the propagandist elements and those nurturing enmity against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and National Conference attempt at belittling the life size achievements and sacrifices of Sher-i-Kashmir and his companions which the history bears testimony.

Omar said anti Sheikh and anti National Conference forces try their best to veil and make people forget the role of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah particularly the one he played before 1977 and the decisions he took to revolutionize the socio-political conditions of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “These elements want youth not to read the chapter of struggle spearheaded by Sheikh Sahib and atrocities and difficulties he faced for the cause of the State and the dignity of the people”, he said and added that those who target Sheikh Sahib for participating in 1977 Elections themselves fought more Assembly Elections than Sher-i-Kashmir.

The Chief Minister said his party National Conference upholds the highest principals of public service, unity, solidarity, amity and equitable development of all the regions and sections of the society irrespective of any considerations, preached and practiced by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah throughout his life.

 “We are here to connect the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, strengthen Hindu-Muslim-Sikh Ithaad (Unity) trait, ensure comprehensive and equitable development for all the residents of the State in all the regions and sub-regions and seek peace and political stability for the peaceful and modern Jammu and Kashmir”, Omar said and underlined the need for making new generation aware of the glaring and stupendous role Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah played for the cause of the State and its people. He said that youth should also be given full account of the struggle spearheaded by Sher-i-Kashmir right from 1931 and the atrocities he faced for people’s cause.

The Chief Minister also referred to the historical decisions his government took during the last about five years to empower public and bring transparency in the functioning of the government. He said he has brought the government functioning under full public scan making people fully empowered to ask questions to the government for its every action or omission. He also mentioned Public Services Guarantee Act and said that service delivery of over 70 services has been made legally time bound in order to make administration quick and responsive to public needs. He also mentioned the re-constitution of Accountability Commission, constitution of Vigilance Commission and implementation of Right to Information Act as also establishment of empowered Panchayat Raj System in the State after a long period of over 30 years.

 “We have given to each commoner the authority equal to the legislator for asking questions to the government about its all activities, performance and fund spending”, he said giving reference to the implementation of Right to Information Act.

Omar Abdullah criticized those who deny to see the gigantic and comprehensive development taking place in the State during the last about five years of his government. “They do not want to see the reality on ground as it makes them sad for they did not do anything remarkable during their tenure in government, as such, are hell bent to astray people by false propaganda against the government”, he said and gave resume of some major achievements registered on the development front in the State during last about five years.

The Chief Minister said that besides batting for political empowerment and internal autonomy of the State, he will continue to strive to seek financial autonomy for the state so that it need not to beseech for funds from the Centre for launch and completion of development projects. “I want to make the State financially as self-sufficient so that it would be capable of offering funds to the Centre for works rather than requesting to it for the same”, he said and mentioned the available avenue of local power generation in this regard. He said he had laid necessary edifice to generate 9000 MW of power in the State within next seven to eight years to provide 24X7 electricity to the people besides making the State financially self-reliant.

Omar said that his government has launched power projects with a capacity of generating over 1750 MW of powers during the last five years and these will come to production within next four to five years. He said that the total power projects launched in the State since independence are of 750 MW capacities, as against his government launched 1750 MW capacity power projects in five years.

Omar Abdullah said that more than 9825 kms of new roads have been constructed during the last about five years by his government besides connecting 1150 unconnected small villages with the main highways. “My government constructed 260 bridges costing over Rs.330 crores, opened 5500 new schools, upgraded 2500 schools, setup scores of ITIs, Polytechnics and Degree Colleges in addition of establishing two Universities”, he said adding that he wants to bring happiness on every face and seek prosperity for all areas. “I do not want to see guns or stone in hands of the youth. I want to see pen and skill in their hands. I want to seek plentiful and better future for them. I want to seek substantial job opportunities and livelihood earning avenues for all my youth”, he said aimed thunderous applause and slogan raising in his and in favour of his party and the government. 

Earlier, the Chief Minister offered fateh on the grave of Late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, showered flowers over it and pray for peace and prosperity of the State and well being of the people. 

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